Tata Harrier review: A design that’s from the future

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Published: December 8, 2018 1:45:25 AM

Land Rover’s architecture, Fiat’s engine, and Tata Motors’ design—a design that’s from the future. That’s the Harrier in brief.

Harrier, by design, is not a traditional SUV.

It’s a shape from the future. It’s a shape that, a few years ago, not many would have thought that a Tata, or any Indian company, could have designed—car design, traditionally, is a specialty of the West. But the Harrier, by design, is not a traditional SUV.

What is the Harrier?
Some of you might remember the H5X concept vehicle displayed by Tata Motors at the Auto Expo earlier this year. That concept has now been developed into a midsize SUV, the Harrier. It is based on the Land Rover D8 platform, on which over 1 million SUVs have been sold globally. In India, the Harrier will primarily compete with Mahindra XUV500 and Jeep Compass. It’ll be launched early next year.

What defines its design?
From certain angles the Harrier does look like Land Rover Discovery or even Range Rover Evoque. Its ‘floating roof’, flared wheel arches, dual-tone bumpers, big tyres and ‘expressive’ design lines give it a unique SUV stance and an incredible road presence.

How is the cabin?
The cabin is so plush that you place it inside a Land Rover or a Volvo and it won’t look out of place. The oak-wood finish dashboard and the brown colour scheme is a treat to the eyes, and a lot of soft-touch material is used. It’s luxurious, yes, and it’s a lot practical, too. For example, there are rear AC vents (on the B-pillar), the driver’s seat can be adjusted in eight different ways, there’s a rear armrest with cup-holders, there’s a cooled storage box, there are spaces for keeping a tablet, a phone, an umbrella, a bottle, sunglass … you name a ‘necessary’ feature and it’s there.

Which engines power it?
To begin with, the Harrier will be available only in diesel: the Kryotec 2.0-litre engine sourced from Fiat, mated to a 6-speed manual transmission (an automatic might come at a later stage). It develops 138bhp of power and 350Nm of torque. We don’t yet have fuel-efficiency figures, but during our 300-km drive across Rajasthan it delivered about 16kpl.

How does it drive?
The NVH levels are low and minimal diesel clatter enters the cabin. There are three driving modes—Eco, City and Sport (in Eco mode the focus is on fuel-efficiency, while in Sport mode the focus is on acceleration). But I am not really a fan of these driving modes—a modern car should be smart enough to choose driving modes on its own. For instance, if I am driving with a soft foot, the car should automatically run in Eco mode, and if I fully press the accelerator, the car should go into Sport mode.

Why do I need to manually choose a mode and distract myself?
But for tough terrains, the Harrier gets three extra modes—Normal, Rough and Wet. These are a revelation, and there is a noticeable difference in the way it drives in these modes.
However, despite all these technologies and options, the overall ride and handling doesn’t really stand out. It’s, at best, average—in more or less the same league as that of its competitors. On the positive side, the steering feel is very good and there’s cruise control for you to drive all day long comfortably on good roads. But on bad roads, the ride turns hard, harsh and bumpy.

How much should it be priced?
For the Harrier to make a mark for itself in the market, it has to be affordable for a lot of buyers. That means attracting those who would’ve otherwise chosen the XUV500 (starting price of Rs 12.57 lakh in Delhi) or even Hyundai Creta (the diesel variant starts at Rs 10 lakh), and that means a starting price of Rs 12-13 lakh (ex-showroom) for the Harrier. At such prices, it’ll be a steal. At prices any higher, the competitors—who have products that have established a trust in the market—might steal the show.
(For this review, we drove the top-end variant of the Harrier, so some of the features described might not find way into all the variants.)

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